Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Campus Compact VISTAs Mobilize Communities in Honor of MLK

This Monday, January 20th, marked the 21st annual holiday celebrating one of America's greatest role models, Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King not only fought for racial equality, but also strove against wealth inequality, and believed in the power of education and access to education to create a more just society.

For months, North Carolina Campus Compact VISTAs have been planning to launch various MLK Day projects state-wide, not only as one time events, but as platforms to increase volunteer engagement in their local communities in the long-term. This week we want to highlight projects supported by our VISTAs. Collectively, our VISTAs mobilized over 1200 volunteers who served over 2700 hours, all in ONE day!

VISTA Devin Corrigan stationed at the UNC Greensboro Office of Leadership and Service-Learning headed up the large UNCG contingent of volunteers in collaboration with Bennett College and Greensboro College. Our own VISTA Leader Carla Davis joined the group to serve.

UNCP volunteers register for MLK day
VISTA Dalton Hoffer with UNC Pembroke's Office for Community and Civic Engagement organized various volunteer opportunities throughout Robeson County. Over 200 volunteers worked at 10 community partner sites on 13 projects. Projects ranged from feeding 100 people at a soup kitchen, making 140 food bags for BART (Borderbelt AIDS Resource Team) clients, hosting 11 kids at a reading party, building a ramp for an elderly woman, cleaning local churches, and making 156 hygiene bags for clients for the Rape Crisis Center to name a few. Our own Associate Director (and MLK Day grants coordinator) Leslie Garvin pitched in at Pembroke.

VISTA Shifra Sered in East Carolina University's Volunteer and Service-Learning Center organized five different project sites in the City of Greenville. Exactly 100 volunteers showed up in all and worked 250 hours at 8 different community sites.

HPU students pack food bags
VISTA Anna Mahathey with High Point University's Service-Learning Program organized thirty-five volunteer opportunities for HPU students and community members throughout the City of High Point. Approximately 400 volunteers showed their servant hearts in High Point, collectively serving 1690 hours at 13 different community sites. Volunteers worked with 25 children at the Read-in/Field Day event, and 60 children at the Zumba-thon, where volunteers also made 33 blankets for the elderly in the community. Volunteers also cleaned a mile of roadways, cleaned and beautified 40 feet of median, prepared, packaged, and distributed 360 meals to a local homeless shelter, and packaged 20,000 meals with the help of Stop Hunger Now. VISTA Program Coordinator Chad Fogleman also stopped by to serve. See the HPU volunteers on the news here.

VISTA Camille Smith with the Raleigh College Center (RCC) at the Chavis Heights Community Center worked with their Raleigh Fellows through RCC's Raleigh Promise program to put on a two-week clothing drive ending January 21st with a fashion show. Volunteers helped sort the clothes and modeled them at the finale fashion show.

VISTA Takira Dale with Duke University's Community Service Center gathered volunteers from Duke, Durham Technical Community College, and North Carolina Central University and teamed up with Million Meals Packaging Program. A total of 300 volunteers showed up and together packaged 100,000 meals! Read about it in the Herald Sun!

VISTA Anna Donze with Wake Forest University's Office of Service and Social Action organized a campus wide Read-In promoting literacy and volunteerism, where over 150 volunteers showed up. Anna worked with several organizations, one of which was El Buen Pastor, with which she works on a regular basis to coordinate WFU student volunteers.

ASU volunteers lend a hand
VISTA Brittany Johnson with Hospitality House of Boone organized a group of nine students to repair an old house that the Organization will be able to sell for additional revenue. After making repairs, Brittany led the students through a reflection on their day of service, and, having extra time, cleared space in the attic so that Hospitality House can start accepting clothing donations for their soon-to-be Thrift Store. The volunteers also went out into the community to collect needed items for the Thrift Store.

VISTA Ariel Mitchell with Lenoir-Rhyne University's Community Service Office organized a group of 12 volunteers to head over to the Hickory Soup Kitchen, where they made 100 food bags, 253 treat bags, and 46 one-gallon bags of dog food. The Hickory Soup Kitchen serves approximately 250 individuals a day and served 80,000 plates of food in 2013.

Feast Down East VISTAs organized building of raised beds.
VISTAs Erin O’Donnell & Melissa Rogan with Feast Down East worked with volunteers to give Wilmington's LINC Urban Farm some TLC. Thirty-six volunteers worked a total of 141 hours to build 54 4'x4' raised beds, and clear space for the beds to be placed. Timothy White of Food Corps said of the event, "not enough can be said about the fantastic partnership that made this all happen. The organizing efforts of FoodCorps, AmeriCorpsVISTA, Cape Fear Crop Mob and Feast Down East truly show that many hands make light work."

This cohort of NC Campus Compact VISTAs are part of a tradition of Campus Compact VISTAs leading MLK Day projects. You can read about our 2012-2013 VISTAs' MLK Day projects here and here.

Our VISTAs have done an outstanding job of collectively mobilizing over one-thousand volunteers for a single day of service. More amazing though, is the work that each of our VISTAs does to build the capacity of their community organizations and universities to better work together to serve the community.  Martin Luther King Jr. "refused to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation", just as our VISTAs refuse to believe it. And so these emerging leaders continue Dr. King's legacy and vision, knowing all too well that "we cannot walk alone."